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March 28, 2011

Rushmore (1998)
Director: Wes Anderson
Actors: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams

rushmore.jpg (360×203)

Synopsis: Student sociopath (Jason Schwartzman) is drawn into a battle for the affections of his favourite teacher (Olivia Williams) by an eccentric industry magnate (Bill Murray).

Review: This is simply classic, exquisite Wes Anderson fare – building on the sweetness and whimsy of his debut feature Bottle Rocket and channeling it into something more like his expansive later films. If anything, Rushmore is the richest and most delectable work by Anderson bar none. It’s a film teeming with a feverish wit, and something tells me, in an indirect way, the spirit of Anderson is captured in Jason Schwartzman’s central character Max Fischer – introduced to us as a student sociopath par excellence in a brilliant early sequence where his numerous and increasingly bizarre extra-curricular hobbies are itemised.

As ever with Anderson, the genius is in the detail, and some of the most pleasing moments of Rushmore are the most incidental and irreverent: from the ghastly portrait that outs the awful family life of Bill Murray’s industrial magnate with his two obnoxious twin boys, to the insanely fetishised plays that Max puts on.

The trick with Anderson is that he works from the outside in – creating seemingly mannered and precious little worlds, but out of these details come portraits of people and social units with remarkable acuity and poignancy. Rushmore‘s fastidious veneer masquerades a real warmth, and it culminates in the strangely compelling (but actually kind of perversely correct) climax where this highly egocentric young student has somehow got all the other characters spinning round his orb by the sheer will of his personality alone. (March 2011)

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